Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Why Vince Velasquez May Not Be A Pitcher Worth Targeting

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Phillies’ Vince Velasquez has grabbed a lot of attention, thanks to his high upside strikeout stuff.  He’s shown it in the Majors (10.44 K/9 in ’16) and he’s shown it over his minor league career (10.7 K/9, including an 11.4 K/9 at Double-A).  Does strikeouts automatically mean success, though?  It’s easy to let it overshadow the flaws, and that could easily be the case here.

 

What We Said
“Velasquez was electric over his 24 starts, posting a 10.44 K/9 courtesy of an 11.2% SwStr%.  That’s not to say that there aren’t concerns, as he was hit hard (24.0% line drive rate) and proved to be homer prone (1.44 HR/9).  Strikeouts are nice, but he has to correct the other numbers.  He was more successful at home (2.88 ERA vs. 5.37 on the road), but home runs were an issue everywhere and his .252 BABIP and 82.1% strand rate at home are concerning.  There’s upside, but he’s not the young Phillies starter we’d target.” – 2017 Rotoprofessor Draft Guide

 

Home Runs
While he owns a 1.10 GO/AO over his minor league career, that number has trended down as he’s moved to the upper levels.  In 33.0 innings at Double-A in 2015 he posted a 0.70 mark, and in 186.2 innings in the Majors he’s at 0.76.  Last season that led to a 14.9% HR/FB and 1.44 HR/9, and before we say that it was just an issue at home:

  • Home – 1.51 HR/9
  • Road – 1.38 HR/9

Obviously missing bats helps, but there’s a lot of risk that home runs continue to be an issue.

 

Secondary Offerings
Surprisingly, opponents produced well against all of his non-fastball options last season (BAA // SLG):

  • Changeup – .322 // .542
  • Slider – .279 // .525
  • Curveball – .308 // .539

That’s obviously a concern, especially with 11 HR coming against his fourseam fastball.  He needs to show development in one, if not two of these pitches if he’s going to excel.

 

Injuries
Velasquez has struggled with injuries throughout his career, including missing time due to Tommy John surgery.  Last season’s 136.0 innings represented a career high, so even if he stays healthy all year long we may be looking at a maximum of around 170 innings this season.

 

Conclusion
Obviously there’s a lot to like, with an ability to miss bats (11.2% SwStr%).  That said there’s a lot of questions hanging over him that caps his potential upside, whether it’s controlling the long ball, the development of his secondary offerings or how many innings he’s going to be able to throw.  Given how deep pitching has become, that means that the risk far outweighs the potential reward.  He’s being drafted around pitchers with arguably higher upside and less risk (or at least just as much risk) like Jon Gray.  He’s being drafted before Matt Shoemaker.  There’s simply too much risk to make the investment.

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, STATS

*** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! ***

Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
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Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

2 comments

  1. Ryan says:

    If you didn’t own Velasquez last season, its difficult to tell just how much his injuries and innings limit messed with his season. When this guy was healthy last year he was an ace.

    The problem is, looking back retrospectively, its hard to weed all of that injury stuff out. He was a top 15 pitcher, maybe not week to week, but cumulatively in the first 3 months – then the wheels came off. First it was the innings limit thennit was the injuries.

  2. MARK E Penn says:

    Did you catch the way VV toyed with Toronto’s starting lineup yesterday like my cat with a soon to be dinner mouse? Saw it and am all in on the VV Train.

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